Photo courtesy of Rifle Falls State Park Complex on Facebook

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is helping Coloradans start the New Year off on the right foot by offering guided “First Day Hikes” at 27 Colorado state parks. The January 1 event will be led by park rangers or volunteers and at many of the parks, participants can also look forward to free giveaways and refreshments.

“It’s a really great way to get people out the very first day of the New Year,” says Castlewood park ranger Tyler Dubin. “I think it’s also nice exposure for Castlewood Canyon State Park. People from surrounding cities maybe aren’t aware of the beauty over here and First Day Hikes are a great way of getting people out here.”

Hike-goers can choose from a wide variety of hike routes that offer a range of skill sets and distances.

“We’re having a couple different hikes — one will be going down the South Platte River and the other will go along the Chatfield Reservoir,” said Chatfield Administrative Assistant Michelle Schulten. “It’s about getting people outside enjoying the outdoors, seeing winter animals and hearing a little about the history of Chatfield State Park.”

Aside from exercise, participants can also look forward to some beautiful scenery unique to the winter.

“This is our third or fourth year doing this and Rifle Falls is particularly unique because waterfalls start off the hike,” said Rifle Falls State Park Manager Brian Palcer. “The falls don’t freeze in the winter but they do create a sheet of ice over the rocks and at the top of the falls, there [are] catwalks so hikers can walk out and really see the views.”

The hikes are free with a valid parks pass or $3 to $9 with a daily park pass depending on the park. Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourages participants to bring snacks, water and — if there is snow — snowshoes. Go here to see a complete list of offered hikes. 

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